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Record Reviews

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Sinking Hearts: CDEP

After the self-release of The Organ's two-song 7" earlier this year, everyone in VancouverBC knew they were bound to be something special. Imagine if The Smiths and Joy Division became one, and were all women. This is what you'd get. Numbed, soft, and delicate-at-times vocals backed by that Johnny Marr jangly guitar, thick carrying bass, and drums that give you the feel of ‘60s trash rock, and of course – an organ. The Organ is the second vocalist of the band, leading every track to the next. The standout tracks have got to be "It's Time to Go," (which also appears on their self titled 7") and the title track, "Sinking Hearts"; songs about romance and rock n' roll. Numbing at times, the lyrics are simple but painfully expressive, "Remember when I left you/ I couldn't say your name/ or other crucial things like I love you/  oh, that’s a shame." (from "Sinking Hearts.") Alright, start writing those bitter love letters and diary entries. This album will have girls dancing with boys, boys dancing with boys, and girls dancing with girls. –Sarah Stierch

–Guest Contributor (Global Symphonic)

The Life and Times of Sal Sagev: CD

Exactly the sort of dime-a-dozen emo that precipitated my initial downgrade of fervor for punk from fanatic to enthusiastic, when emo began to slide from being something reasonable – nay, GOOD (Embrace, Rites of Spring) – to being the cookie-cutter atrocity-cum-joke it is today. It’s heartening to know a new generation of bands is carrying the torch to fuck it up for today’s kids.


–Cuss Baxter (Microcosm)

Rainbow Black + White: CD
Loud rock music with a vague ‘60s influence (mostly courtesy of the inclusion of an organ) and a singer who sounds like he took lessons from Lemmy. –Jimmy Alvarado (Scene Spirit, distributed by Interscope)

I’m So Proud of Him: 12”
Speedsters Organized Sports crank out nine tracks of unrelenting hardcore punk, blending the timelessness of Jerry’s Kids’ Is This My World? and the intensity of current flag bearers Direct Control. It’s nothing new musically, for sure. Aesthetically, there’s a bit more to be desired in the artwork department: a black and white photo of some teen that I imagine is some sort of hero to the band. It doesn’t do much for me, especially when the lyrical matter is so bleak and misanthropic. It just goes to show there’s no accounting for everyone’s taste, but maybe you’re a bit easier to please. –Juan Espinosa (Bulkhead / HIV Town, bulkheadrecords@gmail.com)

Get it Right: 7” EP + Flexi
Five tracks total of raucous ‘60s punk ravers. From the title track, with its requisite harmonica solo, to the brooding “Girl I’m Thinking Of,” to the flexi’s sole foot-stomper, “Makin’ Love,” these guys manage to nail it. –Jimmy Alvarado (Killer Diller)

Breathing with the Dead: 7”
“Breathing with the Dead” is a mostly acoustic shuffler with atonal vocals, which sets the mood nicely enough. The flip, a garagy barn-stomper called “All Alone,” is the much more satisfying of the two, however. –Jimmy Alvarado (Puta!, putarecords.com)

DRGZ! DRGZ! DRGZ!: split 12”
Hand printed covers are nice. Noisy rock bands are nice. “Thrashy hardcore” Organz have three bass players and fuck up eight songs so great (greatly?) you won’t care that there’s no regular guitar. In fact, you’ll wish some other bands would get rid of their regular guitars. O’Death keeps the fi kind of low, also lowers the volume, and goes the spooky route with piano and reverbed samples over electrobeats. Just one crappy song on the whole record, and it’s only one second long, so just ignore it. –Cuss Baxter (Calls and Correspondence/Robot Winter/Nail in the Coffin)

Struggle: LP
I was hooked on this from the opening riffs of the title track. Origin Of M’s distinct sound is a collision of the raw intensity of hardcore punk meeting the swagger of rock’n’roll. Featuring Mr. Guy, formerly of Gudon, on vocals and Maru, of Asphalt, on guitar, Origin Of M take catchy riffs, incorporate blazing solos into them, and add Mr. Guy’s howling voice to create a ten-track LP that you don’t just listen to, you experience it. The mixed Japanese/English lyrics have a decidedly political bent, and complement the music well. There are plenty of sing-along parts, and some heavy mosh parts that make you want to get low and dance, especially on the song “Suck Up!!” which was one of my favorites on this. I’m totally stoked on this record. –Paul J. Comeau (StraightUp, reallife@straightup-rec.com)

Self-title: 7”
Loud, heavy, overdriven stuff relying heavily on a brooding, trashy ‘60s vibe, though approached with hardcore fervor, right along the lines of bands like We March, Lost Sounds, and The Reatards. The inverted cross on the cover makes this a mandatory Christmas gift for your fave Jesus freak. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.savage.se)

New Orleans Born: 7"
Broke-ass blues by the way of the Lost Sounds, including a guitarist who is now in the Black Lips. It’s effective punk blues (without compromising either one of the terms) mixed with creeping sickness and itchiness. The two songs are swampy and feel like the players are knee-deep in mud, playing on a clear night where all the stars are easy to see and fill up the night. Honest, authentic-sounding stuff. –Todd Taylor (Shake Your Ass)

Been Dealt a Losing Hand: CD
Uneasy garage punk that evokes a B-horror movie creature somewhere between Jay Reatard and Lightnin’ Hopkins. And like all good B-horror movie monsters, it moves sloppily and none too fast and is often times accompanied by the foggy sounds of some haunted organ—provided here by none other than Lost Sounds’ Alicja Trout. Sounds like it was all recorded in some serial killer’s crawl space. Not as spastic as I usually take my garage punk, but I like it. –aphid (Empty)

Self-titled: CD
They’re touting themselves as some neo-tribal melding of world music, electronic and “organic” instrumentation, but this sounds like yer average post-Cocteau goth rock. Not that they’re bad or anything. They’re really good at what they’re doing and I like this a lot. I just don’t get how they’re all that different. Maybe it’s one o’ those things where you gotta go see ‘em. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.crosswinds.net/~oroboros33/)

Self-titled: CD
They’re touting themselves as some neo-tribal melding of world music, electronic and “organic” instrumentation, but this sounds like yer average post-Cocteau goth rock. Not that they’re bad or anything. They’re really good at what they’re doing and I like this a lot. I just don’t get how they’re all that different. Maybe it’s one o’ those things where you gotta go see ‘em. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.crosswinds.net/~oroboros33/)

Living Through the End Time: CD
Noisy, speedy metal stuff rife with guttural roars and pain-filled lyrics like, “Decay, rotting, eroding mind filled with piercing pain/ Trusting no one/ Remember the past/ Scars run deep/ Repeat the cycle again.” –Jimmy Alvarado (Inimical)

Self-titled: CD
If you took a good punk band, added two tablespoons of Bryan Adams, one teaspoon Leatherface, two teaspoons rotting Bruce Springsteen (in a bad way), stirred, and put it in the microwave, this is what you’d get. Slightly gruff lyrics (think, roughly, Against Me), on the poppy end of things. With the lyric, “only the good die young/and we’re no good baby, no damn good.” If this were a cereal, it’d be French Toast Crunch: a mix of bad ideas. –Maddy (Art Of The Underground)

Chinatown: 7"
Two tracks of trashy rock'n'roll that sound like they just got back from a time trip to mid-'90s San Francisco. Both tracks are plenty rockin', but my preference is for "Moscow Massage," the peppier of the two. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.kapow.com)

Electric S b/w W.W.W.D.: 7”
Live, the Orphans dominate. Wade, the bass player, is unplugged half the time, busy on conking someone over the head with his stand and swinging his bass like a bat on a rope. Jenny can’t stand still, and is often cleaning the floor with her back as she slithers around, the arc of her prowling defined by the length of her mic cord. Brandon’s an absolute basher. Dann doesn’t move too much, but it’s really a mind trick because he gets so much sound out of what’s he’s playing, like he’s got a secret third hand that no one else can see. Live: awesome. On record: on par awesomeness. What’s sometimes not obvious live (via okay PA and the limitations of DIY) is that how layered their songs really are. Smart, hardcore leads are snuggled up to blunt garage. Tricky little bridges and intros tie them altogether, so there’s both considerable weight to the obvious “fuck-you-ity” and nimble movement to keep it far and away from being generic. Say, for purely hypothetical reasons, The Orphans came out in L.A. in ’77. They’d be neck and neck with The Bags, The Screamers, and The Weirdos. Being that it’s 2005 and L.A.’s fractured all to hell, punk’s getting dirty and neglected again, and not as many people are paying attention, do yourself a favor and pick up one of the finest 7”s this year will likely see and people will be seeking out for years to come. –Todd Taylor (Vinyl Dog)

Electric S b/w W.W.W.D.: 7”
Remember the time you drank so much cough syrup at that Oblivians show that you puked up cigarette butts onto the hood of somebody’s car and then you woke up the next morning on a pile of trash with a black eye and somebody else’s pants on? This is like two songs of that. –Josh (Vinyl Dog)

Raise the Youth: CD
Not to be confused with the L.A. Orphans, these guys, who are from Philly, I believe, play some mighty nice hardcore with intelligent lyrics and enough surprises thrown in to keep interest from waning. Wasn’t too hip on their forays into ska punk, and the production on a good chunk of the songs was kinda thin, but, on the whole, they put in some good work and it shows. –Jimmy Alvarado (Fistolo)

Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead: CD
Rock and roll is at a weird place right now. It’s kind of disheartening to know that there are bands out there that cite Led Zeppelin and Nirvana as major influences. I don’t get it. Those bands sucked the first time, so why would I want to hear some hipster fop in vintage jeans regurgitate some half-assed ripoff? I don’t know. All I know is that this Orphans album will kick you in the dick and you’ll ask for seconds. Rock and roll hasn’t sounded this vital in a long time. It kind of sounds like an old Dangerhouse punk band like the Avengers spliced in with the whoopass-o-rama of the Motards, but mostly it just sounds like the Orphans. Blood, sweat, and barbecue vomit, all rolled up in one neat little package.  –Josh (Unity Squad)

Monster: CD
These guys specialize in the same sorta grindin’ (no, not “grind”), grease ’n’ piston-drivin’ rock/punk as L7 back when they were goin’ at it full throttle. No new ground being broken here, but they do what they do pretty goddamned well and it’s clear they’re sincere about it, too, which is almost as good.  –Jimmy Alvarado (no address)

Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead: LP
“Fuck you, I just took a whole shitload of coke,” Wade screamed. Something was muttered from the soundman. “Fuck ‘one more song.’ Two songs. Let’s go!” Typical Orphans fare, right after someone got gored by the bass neck and took a microphone to the top of the head, they played what they wanted, no more, no less. At first, it’s the firestorm that attracted me to the Orphans. Play it fast, mix it up, and I’m usually a sucker for it. The obvious stuff is great: Jenny’s a vixen, equal parts rolling-in-glass punk sweetheart and back-arcing public displays of drunken fuckitosity. Wade at bass – I’ve never, ever seen someone simultaneously unplug from both ends – the guitar and the amp – and then play for a good forty-five seconds before he realized he was unplugged. There is all that on the criminally well recorded Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead. That danger, that people who don’t go out that much, claim to have left punk rock, is here in spades. But then I continued to listen to this LP, and not to get all mystical and shit on you, but there’s a complete other side to the Orphans. If Brandon wasn’t drumming, it’d be mush. If Dann wasn’t guitaring – Wade’s pitbull would still be lunging – but Dan provides the teeth and neck strength for those teeth to really sink in. Just as any half-assed karate movie has taught me; strike when planted to put strength in the blow. The result, a fantastic, satisfying record. The only criticism? I think Jenny’s organ solo should be louder on “Creature Double Feature.” The LP is gorgeous, too. Converse ink stomps on the inserts, orange vinyl, the works. –Todd Taylor (Unity Squad)

Chinatown b/w Moscow Massage: 7"
Two blood-stained cuts from the best punk band in LA currently without a label. Take the early desperation, delusion, and stripped rawness of Dangerhouse (Eyes, Bags, Weirdos, Dils) and titty twist it, so it bruises up nice, purple, and immediate. With Jenny at the vocal helm, it’s even parts of chopping you into little bits and stolen, smearing kisses. These two songs measure up to their loopdey-loop live show, which I highly recommend. The packaging is immaculate – bloody fingerprints on the dust sleeve, a red bloop on clear vinyl, and great graphics on the cover. A keeper. –Todd Taylor (Kapow)

Chinatown: 7"
Two tracks of trashy rock’n’roll that sound like they just got back from a time trip to mid-‘90s San Francisco. Both tracks are plenty rockin’, but my preference is for “Moscow Massage,” the peppier of the two. –Jimmy Alvarado (Kapow)

Ask Your Neighbor: CD
I was meaning to ask my neighbor about her thoughts on this album, but she was too busy yelling at her kids about paying her the fucking money they owed her. So I decided to embark on writing this review all by myself. This reminded me of a cross between Great Lake Swimmers and Lazarus with some other band I can’t remember thrown in. There are lots of instruments involved (piano, clarinet, banjo, cello, guitar, organ, percussion, etc.), but none of the tracks are overwhelming. Most of it feels pretty simplistic, almost, at times, on the verge of falling apart. The vocals are mopey and unspirited, as though the vocalist did all the songs when he was really tired. It’s not real exciting, to be honest. –Kurt Morris (Contraphonic)

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